Food storage is a standard operation for maintaining food safety. Read the article to learn about restaurant food storage guidelines for 2023.
Safe Distance for Food Storage: Why Food Should be Stored at Least 6 Inches from the Floor?
All food items must be stored above the ground to prevent the likelihood of contamination.
All food items must be stored above the ground to prevent the likelihood of contamination.
The importance of proper storage practices cannot be underestimated in the food industry. This aspect of food safety can help protect customers from foodborne illnesses caused by contamination. An essential practice under food storage is maintaining an appropriate distance between the stored food and the floor. When storing products, it is important to make sure they are located inches from the floor.
Key points covered in this article:
- The most recommended distance between the food and the working floor is 6 inches.
- Keeping foods above ground helps prevent contact with potential sources of dirt, pests, and harmful substances present on the floor.
- You can use mobile carts, shelves, or sanitized pallets to lift food off the ground.
- Elevating food off the floor ensures proper cleaning, promotes airflow, reduces the risk of contamination, and keeps food away from pests.
- The flooring material you use will significantly affect its cleanability, moisture absorbance, durability, and resistance to chemical reactions and pests.
- Smart solutions from FoodDocs' Food Safety Management System can help food businesses monitor proper food storage rules.
Read more about these key ideas and learn about the importance of storing foods above the floor. We also discuss the significance of consistent monitoring in maintaining proper storage using intelligent solutions from our software.
The following topics will help you understand the key points of this article:
- Food should be stored at least which distance from the floor?
- Why should food be stored at a distance from the floor?
- In order to clean effectively and prevent pest infestation, how should you store dry foods?
- What is the influence of flooring material on food safety?
- Ensuring proper food storage with FoodDocs
Food should be stored at least which distance from the floor?
Food products and raw items must be stored at least 6 inches off the floor. At this distance, the food will be kept safe and far from any potential contaminants and food allergens.
Placing food above the floor also reduces the risk of pests, such as insects or rats, damaging the food. While this general food safety practice is not a strict rule, it can help you comply with the established law of preventing contamination in a food establishment.
The US FDA's Food Code, which provides model food safety regulations for states to adopt, recommends that food be stored in a clean, dry location and protected from contamination, including contact with the floor. It does not specify a minimum distance from the floor.
At a minimum, how far above the floor should food be stored?
As previously mentioned, there is no specific guideline about this food safety practice in the US and UK; storing foods at least 6 inches from the floor is the most common recommendation.
The distance between the floor and the food being stored acts as a buffer zone that will help prevent cross-contamination in a food business. In addition, the zone allows your food handlers to easily clean and sanitize the floor without affecting the food.
While the recommended distance between the floor and the food is 6 inches, you also have to consider other factors. Some countries have specific industry requirements, such as using crates or shelving to hold cooked and ready-to-eat foods. For example, in Canada, it is a common industry requirement for establishments to have shelvings for storing food in Canada.
What can be an alternative method for storing foods above the floor?
For some food businesses, the space provided for storing foods may be very limited. This situation can be a challenge.
Suppose this is the case in your food business; here are some effective alternative methods:
- Install or use acceptable storage space drawers or wall-mounted wooden shelving in your facility.
- Use a dedicated table for storing food. Separate raw ingredients from cooked, warm foods.
- Use mobile carts with rows of storage bays that can be used to move food ingredients around.
- Use wire racks with multiple tiers of steel skeletal structure to provide space for storing different kinds of food.
- Use sanitized plastic pallets to elevate foods from the ground.
- Use sanitized storage bins or clean, dry insect-proof containers to group food ingredients.
- Utilize boxes of ingredients used in the manufacture of food products to separate them from the floor.
- Use hooks or pegboards for hanging lightweight food items or packaged goods in storage bags.
- Use a large refrigerated food storage space with multiple food compartments and adequate filling space.
- Immediately store frozen foods in frozen storage with plastic freezer containers.
When using different ways to elevate food off the ground, always ensure that you are using approved and sanitized equipment. In the US, although there are no regulations prohibiting the use of wooden pallets, you are required to ensure that the pallets you use are properly treated, pest-free, and will not cause any type of contamination, whether physical or biological contamination.
In addition to elevating foods off of the ground, make sure to organize and group foods according to their proper category to avoid cross-contamination. For refrigerated storage, use our Free Fridge Organization Chart.
Why should food be stored at a distance from the floor?
Storing food at a distance from the floor is a practical way to prevent food from becoming contaminated. The practice is essential for any food business to maintain proper food hygiene and prevent the risk of contamination.
Here are the key food storage points for placing foods 6 inches (15 centimeters) above the ground:
- Food safety. Floors often collect dust, pest, pathogens, excess cleaning chemicals, and all other kinds of contaminants. By elevating foods in their original container off of the ground, you can reduce the likelihood of transferring and growth of bacteria in food.
- Pest control. Pests can travel through the kitchen and storage area floors. Exposing the foods to entry points makes it easy for pests to access your ingredients. Elevating food acts as a protection by making it difficult for pests to reach and contaminate any food for human consumption.
- Cleaning. When foods are placed higher off the ground and away from walls for inspection and cleaning, they are less likely to be affected by spills, leaks, or cleaning agents on the floor. It reduces any potential obstruction from the cleaning process and maintains the cleanliness of the storage area.
- Air temperature and circulation. Proper air circulation is an essential aspect of optimal storage conditions. Too much moisture build-up can lead to moldy foods. Moisture absorption is less likely to occur if foods have enough space from each other and the floor. This will help prevent mold growth or other foodborne pathogens from growing.
- Compliance with food regulations. Storing foods off of the floor is part of the general food safety guidelines that aim to prevent cross-contamination and cross-contact. Compliance with such food regulations helps protect public health from foodborne illnesses.
To ensure food safety compliance when it comes to food storage, constant monitoring must always be practiced. Use FoodDocs' intuitive Food Safety Management System to monitor all food safety tasks in your food business.
Use the customizable and smart monitoring checks and logs generated by our software to monitor raw ingredients during delivery up until their storage. Remind your team of proper food storage guidelines using smart notifications and alerts.
What storage practices could cause cross-contamination?
Cross-contamination between food is most likely to occur if ingredients and products are not properly stored. Improper storage practices can allow harmful bacterial growth to spread from one food item to another, leading to potential foodborne illnesses. The rules of proper storage must never be an afterthought in food service establishments, food retail, or manufacturing.
It is part of your responsibility as a food business to ensure that foods are stored properly. To help you avoid bad storage practices, we listed 10 bad food storage practices that you need to avoid:
- Storing fresh foods and cooked foods together.
- Using improper or damaged packaging material on food-related items.
- Placing food directly into the storage area without secondary packaging or their original packaging.
- Storing different food types close to each other with no adequate space.
- Lacking in cleaning and sanitation of storage areas.
- Failing to establish pest control plans.
- Failing to monitor inappropriate or uncontrolled temperature fluctuations in the actual storage space.
- Storing cleaning chemicals and other non-food items near raw ingredients.
- Using improper inventory rotation.
- Using insufficient monitoring procedures for storage.
Incorporate these key areas for observation into the customizable monitoring logs and checklists that you get from our smart software. Ensure that all food safety guidelines for storing foods are always properly monitored and complied with digital monitoring logs and checklists.
In order to clean effectively and prevent pest infestation, how should you store dry goods?
Proper storage of dry goods is part of an effective pest management plan. By using proper storage techniques, you can ensure that your dry goods are kept safe, and their quality is preserved from the effects of pest infestation.
There are more ways to prevent pests from damaging your ingredients than just keeping foods off of the ground. Here are some effective ways and essential tops that you can follow:
- Use proper containers. Contain loose dry foods, such as rice, pasta, and flour, in airtight containers to keep pests out.
- Inspect packages and discard damaged goods. When receiving deliveries, always check whether all supplies have no sign of pest infestation. Reject supplies with tears or signs of chewed packaging.
- Regularly clean and sanitize dry goods area. Schedule deep cleaning routines that will help prevent dust build-up and any pests from building their habitat in your kitchen.
- Practice the FIFO system. Use the first-in, first-out system when restocking goods. This way, you can ensure that older items are used first and will not be forgotten.
- Avoid storing high-moisture foods with dry goods. Dry goods are more resistant to pests than high-moisture foods. Make sure to separate these two types of food to avoid the absorption of moisture, which could attract pests.
- Use food-safe pest deterrents. There are many approved, food-safe pest deterrents that can be effective for keeping pests away. You can use natural ingredients, such as bay leaves or cinnamon sticks.
By following these guidelines, you can effectively store dry goods and minimize the risk of pest infestation, helping to maintain their quality and freshness for a longer period.
How should you store dry goods?
Dry goods should always be stored away from moist food products and raw foods. When packaging and storing dried foods, always use tightly sealed containers to prevent moisture reabsorption and pest infestation.
You can use airtight containers of food or sealed food-grade bins to help maintain food quality and the safety of dry food items.
At what distance should food be stored away from the walls and floors?
All foods must be properly stored at least 6 inches (15 centimeters) above the concrete floor and no less than 18 inches (46 centimeters) away from the wall and ceiling. The 6 and 18-inch rules help food handlers clean the area, monitor the food, and allow access for inspections.
What flooring material is safe for food storage?
Choosing the correct flooring material for a food establishment is a critical decision to make. The flooring material you use in your establishment may affect cleaning efficiency. For example, restaurant and manufacturing businesses often choose resin-based floors over concrete material for ease of cleaning and durability.
The flooring material you use can significantly affect the presence of contaminants in your facility.
Consider the following factors when choosing the flooring material for your business:
- Cleanability. One of the most important factors to consider is that the flooring material should be easy to clean and sanitize. This factor also includes that the floor must not collect dirt. Designs with gaps tend to collect food particles or dust, which can cause contamination. Additionally, special structures such as floor coving must be considered. Floor coving is used to have a seamless connection between the wall and the floor, preventing dust from collecting in corners. Use smooth and cleanable materials, such as epoxy coating, stainless steel, or ceramic tiles.
- Resistance to moisture. The kitchen and storage area have very high humidity. Choose non-absorbent materials for floors and walls. When floors and walls absorb moisture, mold, mildew, and bacteria can grow on them and contaminate the entire food preparation and storage area. Choose any impervious material that does not absorb water.
- Durability. The material used for the flooring must be able to withstand heavy foot traffic, equipment movement, and impact from external forces without breaking. Choose materials that require a lower level of maintenance. Chipped flooring material may lead to contamination of food by foreign material.
- Slip resistance. In addition to the safety of food, the flooring material must also be safe for employees. The food storage area is very prone to food spills, which can lead to slips and falls. Use smooth materials with anti-slip coatings to reduce the likelihood of accidents.
- Chemical resistance. Flooring materials will be regularly treated with chemical and bactericidal solutions. As such, they must not negatively react and be able to withstand sanitizers without being damaged.
- Pest control. Certain flooring materials, such as vinyl or epoxy, can be tightly sealed and installed with coved bases, preventing vermin infestation. This helps in maintaining a hygienic environment and reducing the risk of food contamination.
When choosing the proper list of materials for your food business floor, you must always consult with local health and safety departments. Health agencies set up regulations on proper facility layout and materials to use to avoid workplace accidents and meet minimum food safety standards.
Ensuring proper food storage with FoodDocs
Every food business must ensure proper food storage for both raw and ready-to-eat items. This aspect of food safety is essential for preventing the spread of foodborne illnesses and causing food spoilage. It helps in both protecting public health and optimizing the shelf life of raw food ingredients.
Ensuring that food products are stored at least 6 inches above the floor is just one of the many rules of sanitation and proper storage that is important to be monitored. Proper handling and storage start from receiving the products during delivery. At this point, your employees must ensure that the process is being monitored.
Use our smart Food Safety Management System and its intuitive solutions for monitoring. Our innovative software is powered by artificial intelligence, which can help you establish your monitoring system in just 15 minutes.
You can use the following features and benefits that will help you monitor food storage rules, such as keeping foods off of the floor:
- Get automatically generated monitoring checklists and log templates based on your business profile. You can get checklists that can be used for monitoring proper food storage, especially if food deliveries must be stored off of the ground. The essential checks and logs for food storage that you can get include the following:
- Sanitation and cleaning checklist. Use this checklist to monitor everyday cleaning and storage tasks, including sanitation of floors and surfaces where food ingredients may pass before being shelved.
Cleaning checklist in FoodDocs software
- Receiving chilled goods log. Even new supply deliveries must be properly stored. In addition to monitoring the safe temperature of food deliveries, use this log to check if all supplies are not touching the floor of the delivery truck.
Receiving chilled goods log in FoodDocs software
- Employee hygiene checklist. This checklist can be used as a support for ensuring that strict hygiene and sanitation are implemented in your food establishment.
Employee hygiene checklist in FoodDocs software
- Master sanitation schedule. Use this schedule for monitoring cleaning and sanitation tasks that need to be done at large intervals, such as weeks and months. This checklist includes operations such as deep cleaning floors, cabinets, receiving areas, and large storage compartments.
Master sanitation schedule in FoodDocs software
Our system can help you ensure that your employees understand the importance of keeping food off of the ground and storing them properly. All monitoring checklists and logs come with detailed instructions on how to perform and monitor food safety tasks.
You can also add your own version of the instructions as images or videos. In addition, you can fully customize all generated templates or create your own versions from scratch.
- Use our food safety app to get smart notifications to help your employees remember to check up on the storage conditions of your products. This feature will send alerts to responsible employees for conducting cleaning and sanitation tasks according to your established schedule.
Our smart software offers more than just monitoring logs and templates. Using our smart Food Safety Management System, you can also get features that will help you boost productivity and management efficiency.
- Use our real-time dashboard that gives you a quick overview of your daily food safety progress. Using this dashboard, you can quickly identify areas that need more attention and apply immediate solutions. In case you identify where non-compliance with food storage rules was noted, you can address the issue right away.
Real-time dashboard from the FoodDocs software
- Store and organize all food safety task information in the dedicated cloud storage that comes with our smart software. Access all certificates, audit reports, and past records of monitoring logs anytime, and always be ready for an inspection.
With the help of our smart software and its digital solutions, you can ensure food safety compliance and optimization of your food ingredients and products. You will always be sure that all products and ingredients are stored in the correct conditions and regularly monitored for compliance.
You can experience the benefits of our intuitive software for free today when you sign up for our free 14-day trial.